We’re about half way through 0ur run at Fringe World, Perth, and feel like we’re starting to hit our stride now… So considering this review was from our first night I think we got off quite lightly!
Anthropoetry (UK) Presented by Ben Mellor
Noodle Palace, Mt Lawley
Review: Isabel Inkster
Before taking my date to this show, I found myself warning her: “Now, it IS a poetry show. . .”
It is a shame that in the current scene in Perth, even poetry lovers feel the need to make excuses for the art form. Ben Mellor’s Anthropoetry, however, needs no disclaimer.
It certainly is poetry, but leaving the performance limited to that description would not recognise the comedy, scientific spin, and musical prowess that is equally present in Anthropoetry.
Ben Mellor (BBC Radio 4 Slam Champion), supported by the essential musical contributions of Dan Steele, presents a collection of stand-up poetry linked by the theme of anthropometry – or the measurement of the body.
What strikes most is Mellor’s manipulations of language and his penchant for puns, combined with a clearly well-researched body (pardon my own effort) of scientific knowledge to provide the “backbone” of his poetry’s purpose.
Steele wields a guitar, loop pedal and samples to provide an engaging soundtrack that pulls the performance together in a way that the loose theme of “the body” may not.
At more earnest moments – for instance in the beginning of Love Peak, an Atwoodian dystopia where love is a depleting commodity – the lyrics could err towards melodrama. But this danger is swiftly kept in check with pop culture references and tongue-in-cheek wit.
The show resists the temptation (clearly present, given the corporeal topic) to revert to cheap shots about mammary glands and, as Mellor puts it, “knob jokes”.
There were the mandatory few in the aptly titled Naming of Parts. The humour in it was not the highlight of the evening or the defining feature.
For those who love poetry, they will find a modern form that indulges their appreciation for the literary craft. For the many who don’t, there is so much more to this performance to enjoy.
Maybe the next time someone precursors a date with “it IS poetry”, they’ll be using it as a point of encouragement.
Anthropoetry, presented by Ben Mellor, runs January 31, February 1-3, and 6-10 at 7.45pm at the Noodle Palace in Mt Lawley. Tickets are available from fringeworld.com.au.